June 17, 2014, Rick Dakin, CEO, Co-founder and Chief Security Strategist
I spoke recently at TIA’s Network of the Future conference. At the session, which was heavier on vendors than operators, the discussion was very focused on the cloud. Everyone wants to know what’s coming next and if they’re ready for it.
The accelerating cloud transition is both good and bad for data security teams. It’s good, because it’s an opportunity to prepare and defend a dynamic platform that can be far more secure than the static legacy platforms that many organizations are defending today. It’s bad because if we mess up in the cloud, it’s potentially a huge number of organizations and individuals who could be at risk.
There’s a lot of concern over what the cloud means, but this should not be a scary time. We can capitalize on this opportunity to deploy a hardened cloud that will comply with new standards like FedRAMP and PCI mobile services. This will take careful risk assessment, more secure application development and integration of more nimble monitoring and active security response.
All sustainable security programs are based on “defense in depth,” with static border protection and access control supplemented by dynamic monitoring programs that constantly analyze new threats and suggest the appropriate responses.
The same principle applies to organizations that are serious about protecting customer information. Many recent breaches have been executed with sophisticated, zero-day malware exploits that were undetectable by antivirus solutions. If the cloud is breached, we need active monitoring to make sure the bad guys aren’t running wild undetected.
The biggest remaining obstacle to creating a secure cloud is our inability to conduct risk assessments of integrated third parties. We’ve seen with multiple recent breaches – again this month with AT&T – that the easiest way into a company’s system can be through its connected vendors. The entire ecosystem has to be secured.
At its simplest, cloud security begins with a clear allocation of responsibilities between the customer and a cloud service provider (CSP):
Identify where your data will be stored. Compliance laws and regulatory standards may require information to be stored only within the United States.
Ensure adequate physical security. The “cloud” is simply a bank of servers stored somewhere else. Verify they are safe.
Enforce access controls. The cloud user should know who has access to stored data, how they are screened, and the training programs that are in place.
Verify CSPs are monitoring the flow of data and using alerts to identify breaches, track user activity, and enforce accountability for user actions.
Coalfire has conducted thousands of assessments of virtualization architecture for clients in a wide range of industries. Contact us today if you’re serious about protecting your data and thinking through your own cloud migration plans.
Rick Dakin — CEO, Co-founder and Chief Security Strategist
Coalfire started in 2001 with a simple idea – cyber threats are increasing, compliance mandates are getting more complicated, and a well-designed cybersecurity program can help fuel your overall success.
Coalfire helps organizations comply with global financial, government, industry and healthcare mandates while helping build the IT infrastructure and security systems that will protect their business from security breaches and data theft. The company is a leading provider of IT advisory services for security in retail, payments, healthcare, financial services, higher education, hospitality, government and utilities.
The Coalfire Board of Directors provides invaluable guidance for the organization and reflects Coalfire’s dedication to achieving success for our customers.
The Executive Team is comprised of experienced senior leaders who oversee Coalfire’s key business units. Larry Jones, shown right, served as Chairman of the Board of Coalfire since 2012 and became CEO in 2015.
With a passion for quality, Coalfire uses a process-driven quality approach to improve the customer experience and deliver unparalleled results.
Created in honor of the late co-founder of Coalfire, the Richard E. Dakin Fund at The Denver Foundation is supporting scholarship programs at several universities for promising college students studying cybersecurity and related fields.
Security is a team game. If your organization values both independence and security, perhaps we should become partners.
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Cyber risk management, advisory, technology and compliance services. Manage risk and maximize return on investment to prevent data breaches and theft. Coalfire’s solutions are led by a team of industry experts that help enterprise organizations understand a wide range of compliance and risk management initiatives, which enables a consistent cybersecurity framework across the organization.
Expert assessments that provide an accurate understanding of what you are trying to protect, the inherent and residual cyber risk to your enterprise and the maturity of the your security program and underlying controls
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Malware and Vulnerability Research, Open Source Tools, and Opinions
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